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Home Ecology to Home Economics and Beyond: Ellen Swallow Richards' Disciplinary Contributions

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In the spirit of the 110th anniversary of the American Association for Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS), which was celebrated in 2019, this paper traces Ellen Swallow Richards' lasting contributions to the discipline and profession, focusing on the years leading up to its formation in 1909. Within a span of approximately 15 years, she conceived six new disciplines or names for the same: oekology, home ecology, ecology, human ecology, and euthenics, culminating in home economics, which is now called family and consumer sciences. Always, her intent, couched in the disruptive change and prevailing ideologies of the Industrial Revolution, was the control or modification of the home environment using scientific knowledge to secure health, safety and sanitation (hygiene), and efficiency for the betterment of society. Serendipitously tracing her visionary journey proved a fitting way to celebrate 111 years of always moving forward.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2020

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  • The Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences is the official publication of the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).

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    The Journal is published four times a year: Winter (late January), Spring (mid- April), Summer (mid-August), and Fall (mid-November). It is indexed by the Family Index Database, Family and Society Studies World Wide, and the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC). All AAFCS members receive a subscription to the Journal.

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